Friday, February 01, 2008

Chocolate orchids

There are people who are obcessed about growing orchids, and not all of them are gardeners, some are pediatricians. That's because orchid in greek means testicles (hint: look at the roots). For example crypto-orchidism, is not a closet orchid grower, it's an undescended testis. Pediatricians use an orchidometer, sort of a beads on a string instrument, to track the growth of testes during puberty. Those instruments cost about 50$, and a group of inventive pediatricians have found a practical and much cheaper alternative to do the job: a chocolate egg called Teaser. This appeared in a paper in BMJ :

Five paediatricians (three male, two female) were blindfolded and given, in random order, a Teaser or an 8 ml orchidometer bead in a Teaser wrapper and asked to size the other beads as larger or smaller than the reference. (Real testicles were not used because the image of the medical profession is already bad enough.)


Participants were 100% accurate in sizing the beads against both the Teaser and the reference. The ability to rescue staff weakened by hunger at the end of a long clinic is an important bonus for any item of medical equipment.

The low cost of our alternative orchidometer (6p (10¢)) must endear itself to healthcare systems that are strapped for cash. Finally, we reject any allegation that this paper is another gratuitous attempt by dogs to get themselves on to Medline. 4 5 We do, however, acknowledge that this research was basically a load of balls.

However, perhaps because of the unwanted publicity, the manufacturer tragically changed the shape of their chocolates:

" This is a major setback for paediatric endocrinology, and the manufacturer’s decision to change the sweets’ morphology without consulting the medical profession is a further kick in the Teasers. Despite conveying our concerns to the manufacturer, we have received no clear explanation, nor any reassurance that this issue is being taken seriously. We appreciate that marketing chocolates is a matter of great commercial sensitivity and hope that we have not inadvertently hit a delicate spot by drawing attention to the fact that these sweets looked and felt like testes. Our paper made it absolutely clear that both Teasers and Truffles tasted better than wooden orchidometer beads1 and, we speculate, better than testes"


Bayman said...

The orchid roots are asymmetric! Just like my testicles!